Theodore's World: Soldier Trades Teaching For Infantry Life

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July 10, 2007

Soldier Trades Teaching For Infantry Life

Soldier trades teaching for infantry life
Monday, 09 July 2007
By Spc. Chris McCann
10th Mountain Division Public Affairs


Cpl. James Hogan left a job he loved, teaching high-school history and economics in Superior, Wis., to enlist in November 2005 to be a part of American history.

“I was teaching history and about the wars, and I felt it was my patriotic duty to serve, like the guys who went before me,” Hogan said. “I don’t want to sit on my deck at 60 years old and tell people I had a chance to serve and didn’t.”

Hogan graduated from the University of Wisconsin – Superior, and began teaching at a Catholic middle school, then at a high school in Maple, Wis. In addition to teaching American history, he taught economics, criminal justice, social science and sociology, and coached football, girls basketball, and track and field.

But he gave it all up to join the Army.

“The students were surprised. Some were sad, and some were probably happy,” he said, laughing. “I always wanted to teach, and I was no good at math, I don’t like science, and my vocabulary is terrible. But I love politics and history, and I love this country.”

Hogan works with Company A, 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry), out of Fort Drum, N.Y. His unit is the military transition team that has been training 4th Battalion, 4th Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division.

“I’ve really enjoyed working with them day in and day out,” he said of the Soldiers in his company.
“From the different personalities, meeting people from all over the United States, I’ve learned a lot. I really respect everyone in the Army, whatever they do, but these (infantry troops) are the ones putting in blood, sweat and tears.”

A willingness to be on the ground and on the front lines is a respect-earner. One of his heroes, he said, is Theodore Roosevelt.

“He really solidified my desire to join the Army,” Hogan said. “He quit the Navy to join the Army and then formed the Rough Riders, because it always bugged Teddy Roosevelt that his father didn’t fight in the Civil War when the country needed him.
“I like his maverick spirit, he did what was in his heart, and he sure wouldn’t be making decisions based on poll numbers if he were president today.”

Hogan has a rather maverick spirit himself, which serves him well with Soldiers both older and younger than him.

“I’m 33 years old,” he said. “In civilian life, I would have been teaching some of these guys, but they’re teaching me the ways of the infantry here,” he said. “It’s tough being older, especially as an enlisted Soldier. I didn’t become an officer because that’s not what I wanted. I’ve had responsibility. I just wanted to be a grunt. And it’s tough to get smoked by a guy nine years younger, but that’s when you just have to swallow your pride.”

Hogan plans to return to teaching – and coaching – when his term of enlistment ends, but he’s toying with the idea of going into the chaplaincy.

“I’m a man of faith,” he said. “I want to study scripture more in-depth, and I want to serve Soldiers in a more personal way. Guys have been laying it all on the line here for five years now, and the turmoil and struggle and separation from family is hard. I feel I could help, and give strength to them to hang in there.”

If he doesn’t choose that road, however, he said what he’s learned in the Army will serve him well as a teacher.

“I think I’ll get more respect as a teacher – I can bring in my photos and things from Iraq, and that would be really good. If I go into the chaplaincy, I’d like to be an Army Reserve or National Guard chaplain so I could still teach.
“It’s an honor to serve my country alongside all my fellow Soldiers in uniform,” Hogan said, “and I’m thankful for the opportunity to do it.”

Wild Thing's comment.........

Our country is made up of such awesome people in our military. It is such a privilege to be an American and to know even in some small way a little something about those that serve our country. Thank you Cpl. James Hogan and all our troops and ROCK!

Posted by Wild Thing at July 10, 2007 12:44 AM


I see this happening more and more.
A Physics teacher from my daughter's high school will be leaving for Afghanistan to become a teacher there. His wife and three children and her parents are going, too.
They aren't afraid of going into the "Lion's Den." We all have to face our own "Lion's Den" at least once in our lives.
We also had a weatherman spent time in Iraq since he is in the reserves.
We should be praising these people, not shutting them off.

Posted by: Lynn at July 10, 2007 04:22 AM

Great and heartwarming story, there are still a few who don't buy into the 'the country owes us' theme.
Thank you Cpl. James Hogan, you set an excellent example for your students.

Posted by: Jack at July 10, 2007 12:40 PM

What a great guy. He is really very average except he has that disappearing sense of obligation to serve. As he said, he wants to be like Teddy Roosevelt.

Whether he becomes a chaplain or goes back to teaching, his infantry experiences will serve him well as he will serve others well.

Thank you and God Bless Cpl. James hogan.

Posted by: TomR at July 10, 2007 01:06 PM

HOORAH!!!! The only thing he could ever do better is join the Marines.......

Posted by: somebody at July 10, 2007 07:55 PM

God bless this gentleman. Could use more like him teaching our youth and less of the NEA type.

Posted by: raz0r at July 10, 2007 09:30 PM

Lynn, wow that is fantastic!! Thank you so much for sharing about all of them.

Posted by: Wild Thing at July 11, 2007 12:26 AM